In her latest column for the Guardian, Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman writes about the arrest of at least 21 people in recent weeks in Orlando, Florida for giving free food to the homeless and hungry.
Orlando mayor Buddy Dyer has literally had the gaul to call the Food Not Bombs activists “food terrorists.” As Benjamin Markeson, who was arrested earlier this month, said in a recent interview on Democracy Now!:
All I can say is that we think that it’s terrorism to arrest people for trying to share food with poor and hungry people in the community to meet a community need. And all we do is we come to the park and we share food with poor and hungry people. I don’t know how that qualifies as terrorism.
As Goodman explains:
At issue is a city law, the “Large Group Feeding” ordinance, which requires groups to obtain a permit to serve food, even for free, to groups of 25 or more. Such permits are granted to any group only twice per year. Orlando Food Not Bombs has already used both of its allowed permits this year.
The Florida Civil Rights Association has called on Mayor Dyer to apologise for his designation of the Food Not Bombs group as terrorists. The criminal act should not be feeding more than 25 people, but that more than 25 people need food.
One of the most famous songs at Disney World, not far from Lake Eola Park, is called “It’s a Small World”. Its refrain: “There’s so much that we share/that it’s time we’re aware/it’s a small world after all.” Let’s turn fantasy into reality. Sharing food should not be a crime.
I couldn’t agree more. Let us hope that continued nonviolent resistance to this unjust law will galvanize the community and force the city to do the right thing.
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Sure, it’s a ridiculous law rooted in the delusion that the poor can be legislated away.
But what an opportunity for outreach, coalition building, building on the FnB franchise, creative interaction with bureaucratic imperatives. What for purposes of this permit is required of “groups?” How hard would it be to come up with enough groups to partner with FnB so that there is a permit for every day FnB wants to provide food. I can imagine LOTS of possibilities.
Congrats to Keith and FNB for securing coverage by Amy. Hope you don’t have to wait another 30 years, or is this not Amy’s first time covering you?